A 2-megawatt solar array is coming to a field on Union Street in Bangor within eight months, making it the latest Bangor-area solar installation in the works.
The 10-plus acre solar farm will be located in what is currently a vacant field at 1801 Union St. near the Paul Bunyan Campground and will connect to the Versant Power interconnection point on Union Street
The applicant for the project is SRE Solar Organization 1, which will lease the land from the nearby Apostolic Lighthouse Church. It will generate 350 households’ worth of power, according to Bangor Planning Board documents. The planning board unanimously approved a development permit for the project in August 2020.
The installation will include more than 5,200 panels, according to a legal notice about the project.
Construction is expected to begin within six to eight months, said Andrea Rabe, senior environmental consultant at Rabe Consulting, which is working on the project.
SRE is trying to get U.S. Department of Agriculture funding, but is open to using private sources, Rabe said.
The developers looked at several sites in the Bangor-area before settling on Union Street and have done other projects in Maine, she said.
“They’re really just trying to be responsible and help make that shift to renewable energies when practical,” Rabe said.
Maine has seen a flood of new solar projects in recent years following the 2019 expansion of incentives to build such projects through the state’s net energy billing program. Elsewhere in the Bangor area, Holden’s planning board recently approved the construction of the third solar installation in that town.
The state had nearly 246 megawatts of solar capacity installed this year, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, with about two-thirds of the capacity having been installed since 2019. The association ranked Maine 21st in the nation for expected growth in solar over the next five years.
Now, a new law adds requirements before medium solar arrays such as the one planned on Union Street can take advantage of net energy billing, which gives small- and medium-sized solar developers credits for excess power they supply to the grid.
Supporters of the legislation, which became law without Gov. Janet Mills’ signature on July 1, hope the new requirements slow down the pace of new solar projects in an effort to contain costs to ratepayers.